This is such an important topic, especially in this busy age. I’m sure you know of someone who is chronically late and how annoying that can be. Being late for social engagements is one thing; being late for a client is a whole other story. If you hold a job, it is your responsibility to be on time. In the court reporting world, being on time actually means getting to your assignment early.
The following verse speaks to this perfectly:
If you are early, you are on time.
If you are on time, you are late.
If you are late, you are in trouble.
As a court reporter, it is best if you get to your assignment a half an hour earlier than the designated start time. It is always wise to account for traffic and public transportation snafus, both of which are pretty much a certainty on any given day. You do not want to keep everyone waiting for your arrival, and you do not want a call placed to your agency wondering where you are and what your ETA is. Not a good start to any day!
If you arrive early, it will give you a chance to set up, check your connections, troubleshoot any problems, look over any pleadings, input dictionary entries, and even relax if just for a moment. This is valuable time to collect your thoughts and prepare for what lies ahead. Soon people will be arriving, and you will need to properly identify them, determine whom they are representing, and note them on your seating chart. Once this is done, everyone involved can get down to the business at hand with no time wasted.
Contrast this scenario with one where you arrive late to a deposition. Everyone is seated around the table ready to go. You’re doing your best to set up quickly, and you feel all eyes upon you. As luck would have it, you’re having a problem with your equipment. You call for technical support and get put on hold. Now the attorneys are tapping their fingers and checking their watches. You finally get your issue resolved, but you can’t go on the record yet. You still have to ask for a caption and find out who everyone is. More time goes by, and the attorney who hired you is seeing dollar bills fly out the window because he’s paying the expert $500 an hour for his time. To complicate matters, imagine if the attorneys had only a certain amount of time to conduct their examinations per court order, had to catch a flight at a certain time, or were paying for the video conferencing at an off-hour rate of $400 an hour. Yes, time is money.
As a reporter, you never want to be the reason for a late start. Why? If you cannot be counted on to arrive at your assignments early, it calls into question your professionalism in other areas, such as your organizational/ time management skills and your attention to detail: in short, your competence. It is inconsiderate and disrespectful to negatively impact the schedules of busy people who need to be productive at a high level. It also reflects poorly on the agency which works very hard to promote a professional image with an emphasis on customer service and satisfaction.
Depositions can start, and often do, with the understanding that an attorney will be arriving late, but depositions cannot go forward without the court reporter. The reporters who work for this office would rather arrive an hour early than be one minute late. True professionals, they realize that tardiness is detrimental to their reputations and careers, so they do all they can to ensure that they arrive to their assignments early, not merely on time.